Meet Our Awardees
NPH is proud to recognize these awardees for their outstanding contributions to our affordable housing movement and industry. They embody NPH’s multi-year theme “Grow Power, Secure Justice”, uplift our collective value of homes for all, and actively work toward housing and racial justice all over the Bay Area region and beyond.
This year we honor:
Catherine A. Bauer Lifetime Achievement Award
Barbara has worked as a developer for Mercy Housing for over thirty-five years. During this time she touched the lives of countless seniors, families, and people experiencing homelessness, changing the landscape of affordable housing in San Francisco. She has mentored and trained a whole generation of affordable housing developers. Additionally, Barbara has advanced racial equity in a variety of ways, most notable by hiring and mentoring staff of color and secondly by building the capacity of partner nonprofits led by people of color, including ALAS (Latino farmworkers in Half Moon Bay), Chinatown CDC, CHDC in North Richmond, San Francisco HDC, and many more.
As one of the Bay Area’s most impactful and community-focused affordable housing developers, Barbara Gualco has touched the lives of countless seniors, families, and people experiencing homelessness, transforming the landscape of affordable housing throughout her native San Francisco. Barbara began her career at Mercy Housing thirty-five years ago. She interned with Catholic Charities during graduate school and stayed on as a project manager when the organization merged with Mercy Housing. She spent many years as a senior project manager before stepping into the role of Regional Director. Over the course of her incredible tenure, Barbara greatly expanded Mercy Housing’s Bay Area portfolio, developing or overseeing the development of 55 affordable housing communities with over 4,500 homes. These projects have included partnerships with community-based organizations, complex air rights parcels, and many long-term ground leases. Barbara has mentored dozens of early-career affordable housing developers, hailing from all walks of life, who have benefited enormously from her guidance. Barbara has served on the board of many housing justice organizations, including the Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative and as board president of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH). She was also celebrated as a Housing Hero by the Housing Action Coalition.
Rising Star Award
Regina Celestin Williams
Regina’s accomplishments and expertise in affordable housing, her commitment to creating sustainable communities, and centering the experiences and needs of those most marginalized in Santa Clara County have established her as a Rising Star housing champion. Regina has provided leadership and mentorship in NPH’s Bay Area Housing Internship Program (BAHIP) and Anti-Racist Champions of Change (ARCC) programs, helping to advance NPH’s racial equity goals and programming.
Regina has spent her entire career working towards housing and economic justice through affordable housing and community development because of her personal experience of benefitting from publicly subsidized housing as a child. As the Executive Director of SV@Home, she leads policy and advocacy for affordable housing in Silicon Valley. Prior to joining SV@Home, she served as Director of Housing Development at First Community Housing, a leading San Jose-based affordable housing developer. Regina has also worked as a member of the National Development Council’s (NDC) East Team, providing housing and economic development consulting services to several East Coast municipalities, leading NDC’s green initiatives, and teaching several courses on community and housing development finance. She previously worked at the National Housing Trust, structuring financing for and overseeing the rehabilitation process of resident-occupied affordable housing properties and, at times, working with tenant ownership groups.
Regina was born and raised in Richmond, CA, and after a significant stint on the East Coast, she has called San Jose home for several years, having both of her daughters here in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Unsung Hero Award
Enterprise Community Partners
Geeta serves as a Senior Director at Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) in the Northern California office where she oversees the programmatic work and co-manages operations. She brings 20 years of experience in affordable housing and community development: program design and implementation, policy development, technical assistance, legislative advocacy, community organizing and planning, and coalition building. Geeta led Enterprise’s co-sponsorship efforts of AB 1487, which created the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA), and co-authored The Elephant in the Region: Charting a Path for Bay Area Metro to Lead a Bold Regional Housing Agenda. Geeta is an innovator, change-maker, and tireless champion for regional housing solutions and deserves to be honored for her impact on the affordable housing industry across the San Francisco Bay Area.
Geeta Rao serves as a Senior Director at Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) where she oversees the programmatic work and co-manages operations of the Northern California office. Geeta brings 20 years of experience in affordable housing and community development. She serves on the leadership team of Bay Area Housing for All Coalition, which is spearheading efforts to place a $10-20 billion housing bond measure on the 2024 ballot for the Bay Area. Geeta led Enterprise’s co-sponsorship of AB 1487, which created the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) and co-authored The Elephant in the Region: Charting a Path for Bay Area Metro to Lead a Bold Regional Housing Agenda.
Prior to Enterprise, Geeta served as San Francisco Foundation’s Initiative Officer of the Great Communities Collaborative (GCC), a program that advances equitable transit-oriented development. Prior to GCC, Geeta was a Program Manager at Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association in Massachusetts where she facilitated the acquisition of over 200 foreclosed properties by community-based organizations. She was also Policy Director at the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH) where she implemented the organization’s policy and legislative agenda and managed several advocacy campaigns. Geeta’s first advocacy position was as Director of Community Design at Urban Ecology where she managed urban design and planning projects throughout the Bay Area.
Geeta’s board service includes Housing California, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, and TransForm. She has a Master’s degree in City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology from Bates College. Geeta lives in San Francisco and spends her time baking Midwestern treats, dancing at ODC Dance Commons, and (reluctantly) birdwatching across California with her two boys.